Law enforcement officials and nonprofits across Minnesota are cracking down aggressively on customers of prostitution — often white, middle-aged and married men — and boosting programs aimed at keeping teens out of the sex trade, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Advocates want to shift from police intervention to prevention, after years of toughening prison sentences for pimps and overhauling how the state treats sex trafficking victims. The new effort coincides with the attention Minneapolis will receive hosting the 2018 Super Bowl, an international event that will draw thousands of wealthy visitors and a likely small surge in sex trafficking.
Advocates say criminal sexual enterprise has taken root in the state and will remain long after the Super Bowl leaves town. “The demand is there constantly. This happens every day, every hour, every second of the day,” said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, a leader of a Super Bowl anti-sex-trafficking committee. Law enforcement agencies and nonprofit groups are using the big game to bring fresh urgency and funding to anti-sex-trafficking initiatives, speeding programs already in the works. Prevention programs aimed at teenage boys and at-risk kids will begin this fall. A public awareness campaign to discourage men and boys from buying sex starts this month in Duluth. From Minneapolis to Mankato, stings aimed at men who solicit girls and women for sex have intensified, with even departments in smaller cities taking steps to get offenders.